DI 52120.220 Rhode Island Workers’ Compensation (WC)
The Rhode Island Division of Workers’ Compensation is responsible for the administration of their workers’ compensation law. WC insurance may be provided through a competitive State fund, private insurance carriers, or employers may self-insure. Employees are also permitted to assert their common law rights to opt out of the worker's compensation system.
A. Types of WC Payment
Rhode Island’s statute on WC is found in Labor and Labor Relations, Title 28. Payments are based on 75 percent of the worker’s pre-injury spendable wages, subject to the State maximum.
1. TI - Total Incapacity (§ 28-33-17):
Temporary Total (TT) or Permanent Total (PT) WC. This is paid for the duration of the disability. A COLA is payable on May 10th of each year if these payments extend beyond 52 weeks.
2. PI - Partial Incapacity (§ 28-33-18):
Temporary Partial (TP) WC. This is paid for up to 312 weeks (not including any period for which TI was paid). The injured worker must be notified 26 weeks before PI payments can be stopped, and he can file a petition for the continuation of PI benefits beyond the 312 week limit. If the benefits are continued beyond 312 weeks, a COLA will apply effective with May 10th of each year after the end of the 312 weeks.
Note: Dependent benefits of up to $15 per week per dependent may be added to TI, but the total of both payments is then limited to 80 percent of the worker’s pre-injury average weekly wage. These payments ARE offsettable. Dependent benefits are not added to PI WC.
3. Scheduled Awards (§ 28-33-19):
Permanent Partial (PP) WC. These payments are made as additional compensation for certain specific injuries including disfigurement and loss of use. They are paid in addition to all other WC. The amount paid is between $45 and $90 per week (based on the injured worker’s average weekly wages) for a certain number of weeks. The number of weeks used in the calculation depends on the injury. Scheduled Awards are:
4. Settlements (§ 28-33-25):
When periodic payments have continued for at least 6 months, the parties involved may petition the WC Court for a settlement of the future liability for a lump sum (or a structured-type settlement of periodic payments). Lump sum settlements generally set a weekly rate for proration that is based on the worker’s life expectancy rather than the prior periodic payment rate. Upon payment, the employer and carrier are absolved from any and all liability arising out of the injury. Note also:
B. Cost-of-living Adjustments (COLA)
COLAs are effective May 10th of each year. See the COLA chart under ‘REFERENCES’ below for the amounts. Refer to DI 52120.220A above to see if the type of WC being paid is eligible for a COLA.
C. Attorney fees
Attorney fees are determined on a case-by-case basis. However, special limits do apply to settlement cases, as described above.
D. Retirement insurance benefit (RIB) considerations
Rhode Island does not reduce its WC for our RIB.
E. Time Limits for filing
If the carrier/employer paid some WC without accepting liability, the worker has 2 years from the date of injury to file a petition with the WC Court to see if the carrier is liable for additional payments.
If the worker has agreed to the cessation of his weekly WC and signed a Suspension Agreement, he then has up to 10 years to reopen the claim.
F. Verifying WC payment amounts
To determine an employer’s WC carrier, contact the State WC Education Unit at (401) 462-8100. The Division of Workers’ Compensation’s mailing address is:
Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training
Division of Workers' Compensation
1511 Pontiac Avenue, Building 71-1, First Floor
PO Box 20190
Cranston, RI 02920-0942
Memorandum of Agreement (MOA), Form DWC-02 – Sent to the worker when the carrier accepts liability and begins payment.
Suspension Agreement, Form DWC-05 – Signed when the worker agrees to end weekly WC payments.
Non-Prejudicial Agreement, Form DWC-20 – Sent when the carrier pays WC (for up to 13 weeks) without accepting liability. When WC payments stop the carrier must send a Report of Indemnity Payment, Form DWC-22.
Report of Indemnity Payment, Form DWC-22 – This is a combination form used to report indemnity payments.
Mutual Agreement, Form DWC-24 – Used to amend a Memorandum of Agreement, order, or decree, but can also be used to document an agreement for suitable alternative employment. This must be accompanied by a Report of Indemnity Payment form.
Itemized Statement of Compensation, Form DWC-50 – Completed by the Claim Administrator within 60 days after the WC stops, and itemizing all payments made on the claim. This form must be filed with the Division of Workers' Compensation with a copy to the employee and his or her attorney (and also to the employer, if it was filed by the insurer).
Report of Specific Payment, Form DWC-51 – Used to report payment for a specific injury.